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Institutions of the British National Government

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1 Institutions of the British National Government
Prime Minister & Cabinet Parliament Bureaucracy and Judiciary

2 Westminster Model Westminster Model – is a democratic parliamentary system of government modeled after the political system of the United Kingdom. Term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

3 British Government Overview
Britain is a unitary state with political authority centralized in London. Government has three branches of government (executive, legislative, judiciary) & a bureaucracy. Legislature (Parliament) is a bicameral system – House of Lords & House of Commons Parliamentary System – a system of government where in the ministers of the executive branch are drawn from the legislature. Prime Minister is the head of government; Monarchy is the head of state

4 British Prime Minister
Prime Minister (PM) Gordon Brown British Prime Minister Prime Minister– is the leader of the majority party in Parliament Considered to be the “first among equals” Head of Government Leader of the legislative and executive branch – no separation of powers Not directly elected by the people Chooses cabinet members Represents the party in parliamentary elections Lives at Number 10 Downing Street

5 The Cabinet Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister and the Ministers – head a major bureaucracy of the government. Members are party leaders from Parliament chosen by the Prime Minister. Collective Responsibility – as leaders of the majority party elected by the people, the cabinet is the center of policymaking in the British political system

6 Parliament Parliament is a bicameral legislature with a House of Commons and a House of Lords. House of Lords House of Commons

7 House of Lords Members are either Hereditary Peers – seats passed down through family ties; or Life Peers – people appointed to seat through distinguished service to Britain Minimal power/influence Powers to delay legislation; debate technicalities of proposed bills; add amendments to legislation (simple majority vote override by Commons)

8 House of Commons Consist of Members of Parliament (MPs)
Currently 646 members Only ones who can become party leaders and ultimately the head of government (no outsiders) True policy making house of Parliament (Parliamentary Sovereignty – the principle that Parliament’s decisions are final) Controlled by the Prime Minister & the Majority Party

9 House of Commons Party Discipline – when all members of Parliament within a party vote together on every subject. If party members do not support their leadership, the government lacks legitimacy. Majority party wants to avoid losing a vote of confidence – a vote on a key issues. If lost, by tradition the cabinet must resign immediately and elections for new MPs must be held ASAP

10 House of Commons Speaker of the House Cabinet Members Shadow Cabinet
Overseer of debates; not a MP; apolitical Cabinet Members Shadow Cabinet “Backbenchers” “Backbenchers” Prime Minister Leader of majority party Leader of the Opposition Leader of minority party Loyal Opposition Side Minority Party; left of the Speaker Majority Party Side right of the Speaker Leader of the Second Opposition Leader of 2nd minority party

11 House of Commons Question Time – once a week, the Prime Minster & cabinet must defend themselves and their policies against the opposition (4:22) (0:44) (9:53)

12 Whitehall Palace in London
British Bureaucracy Whitehall Palace in London Buildings where Cabinet Offices and British Bureaucracy Offices are housed. Top level bureaucrats (civil servants) are experts in their field and make a career of government service. Have a great deal of input into policymaking (discretionary power) due to their expertise. Their job is implement policy enacted by cabinet members. Usually never run for office or active in party politics

13 Royal Courts of Justice in London
British Judiciary Legal system based on common law (focuses on precedent & interpretation) Law Lords – highest court, select members of the House of Lords Limited powers of judicial review due to the principal of parliamentary sovereignty (Parliament’s decisions are final) Courts may not impose rulings on Parliament, the Prime Minister or the cabinet Royal Courts of Justice in London


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